The $180 million expansion to Akron Children’s Hospital is ahead of schedule and under budget.
The seven-story addition to the downtown hospital campus is now expected to be finished Feb. 20, 2015 — two months earlier than originally planned, said Grace Wakulchik, the hospital’s chief operating officer.
“And we’re hoping it will be earlier than that,” she said.
Wakulchik estimates the hospital saves about $7,500 in construction costs for each day early the project is complete.
Children’s broke ground this spring on the 368,735-square-foot addition, which will house a new emergency department, outpatient surgery center and 100-bed neonatal intensive-care unit, as well as a new unit for high-risk labor and deliveries.
The hospital expects to add 175 to 200 new employees, including doctors, support staff, respiratory therapists, environmental services and others, when the addition is complete.
The first phase — a six-level parking garage off West Exchange Street — opened to employees last month, said Stephen Powell, onsite program manager for KLMK Group, the owner representative for the construction project. The garage will be used for patient families and visitors when the new tower opens.
The portion of Locust Street between Cedar and Exchange streets that has been closed while the parking garage was built is scheduled to open mid-November after minor work and landscaping is complete, Powell said.
The total construction cost for the parking garage is still being finalized but appears to be $500,000 to $1 million less than the $20 million budget, he said.
Work will continue through winter with the help of snow blankets to cover new concrete and other construction areas, said Nick Loughrin, production manager for the Boldt Co., which is heading the construction with Welty Building Co.
The seven-story building should be “topped out” by spring, he said.
About 120 construction workers are at the site, with another 130 expected as the project moves forward, said Patrick Oaks, project executive and president of Welty Facility Services Group. About 87 percent of the workers are from northern Ohio.
To encourage a focus on safety and efficiency, construction workers are receiving reward decals with the Children’s Hospital “bambino” logo to put on their hard hats for sharing suggestions and implementing even small changes, Loughrin said. The concept is similar to the buckeye leaf decals the Ohio State University football team gives its players to put on their helmets to recognize hard work and good performances.
“As we’ve gotten this program developed and really working, we’ve seen some good ideas,” Loughrin said. “The site is organized.”
Children’s Hospital is seeking at least $50 million in donations to help pay for the projects, according to officials. The rest will be funded through borrowing and hospital reserves.
Hospital employees and staff have donated almost $4 million during the quiet phase of the fundraising campaign, Wakulchik said.
The hospital also plans to raise $10 million to help Ronald McDonald House expand.
Online updates about the construction project, traffic impact and a live construction camera are available at http://building.akronchildrens.org/
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.